Celeriac is celery root, the overlooked vegetable
Look familiar? If not, you're one of many who have overlooked these gnarly bulbous vegetables at the market. They go by several names, including turnip-rooted celery, knob celery, celeriac, and celery root - regardless of the name, they are the same delicious plant.
Most prefer to eat the bulbous hypocotyl or edible stem, but the leaves and shoots are often left behind to rot in the fields or in waste bins by consumers. If you're one of those, I urge you to think twice before wasting such exciting edible nutrition. Each shoot and leaf offers an explosion of flavor; delicate and vibrant.
How do I use them in my cooking?
I use them in place of celery stalks, as a garnish, pickled in vinegar, in soups/stews, and more. The key is to cut off the stems/leaves immediately before storing. This will ensure longevity and freshness of the bulbous hypocotyl - they can last 6-8 months this way without losing an ounce of flavor.
The bulb of the plant is commonly baked, boiled, braised, deep-fried, grated, mashed, pressure-cooked, puréed, or eaten raw, roasted, or sautéed. Its season is shorter than most - autumn through spring - and its flavor is not as loud as the most-common celery cultivar seen in grocery stores throughout the year. Think of celeriac as a subtle, celery-flavored potato.
Looking for more food waste makeovers? Check out bestovers.com where you can learn more and participate in the next pop-up dinner hosted by FoodistFilms and ChefRDN (me) in St. Paul, MN.
Sure, these guys may look a bit intimidating at first, but they are quite easy to prepare in the kitchen. Wait to wash and trim the bulb until you're ready to cook it. The greens -stalks and leaves- should be trimmed immediately as mentioned earlier, as, if left intact, they will draw out moisture from the bulb. Ultimately, this will shorten the life from 6 months to just a few weeks at-most.
BULB: Cut away the roots and peel away the outer layer when ready to cook. Browning occurs rapidly once the flesh is cut. Optional - soak in a bowl of water with a touch of lemon juice.
LEAVES & STALKS: Wash and separate leaves from stalks until ready for use. This can be done a few days in advance without compromising flavor, but be sure to store in a clean tea towel in the crisper of the refrigerator.
Some of my favorite celeriac flavor pairings include:
CHEESE, i.e. Comté, Gruyere, Parmesan, Pecorino
leeks, all onions really
root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, turnips, rutabaga
spices: thyme, rosemary, tarragon
Favorite flavor combo's include:
celery root + apples + celery + mustard
celery root + fennel + hazelnuts + lemon + garlic
celery root + rosemary + rutabaga
celery root + garlic + parsnip + potatoes + thyme
celery root + chanterelles + wild rice + leek
Creamy celeriac & potato soup
1 celeriac, cut into 1 " cubes
3 waxy potatoes, cut into 1 " cubes
2 cloves garlic, whole
2 tbsp dried lavender
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp butter
1 whole onion, diced
1/2 tbsp thyme, dried
salt and pepper
In a large pot, combine celeriac, potatoes, garlic, bay leaf, and lavender. Fill with water, just enough to cover the vegetables. Add a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes OR until potatoes/roots are cooked throughout.
Meanwhile, sauté onions in butter with thyme.
Strain the vegetables when cooked, discard the lavender and bayleaf, and reserve the cooking water. This water will be used to thin the soup to the desired consistency.
In a blender, combine vegetables, cooked onions, and heavy cream. Purée until desired consistency is reached using the vegetable water. Season according to taste with salt and pepper.
Garnish optional: celery root leaves and olive oil drizzle.
lavender --> rosemary
heavy cream --> milk or plant-based milk
butter --> olive oil
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